Every author has certain subjects that tend to come up a lot in their writing. I’m not talking writing styles, like favoring ellipses (I removed about half of the ones I put into Ancient Ruins because I tend to over-use them), but more concepts and themes. One of the things I try to focus on is knowing my own tendencies and weaknesses. And I figure I may as well talk about the tendencies that I’ve recognized in myself. I’ll actually admit, Ancient Ruins and the entire Ancient Dreams trilogy is unusual in that it hits almost all of the different subjects at the same time. Usually the stories aren’t quite so…dark.
Angels & Demons: I adore angels. I absolutely love succubi. Angels rarely make direct appearances in my books and stories because they’re generally powerful beings of light, and their presence would wreck the balance of power. But I love their possible presence. On the other hand, seductive succubi on the side of the bad guys? Or even striving for redemption? I admit it, it comes up more than it should. I’ve been trying to rein myself in on this subject.
Corruption: Hoo-boy, this is a big one. Corruption as a concept fascinates me. I often have to remind myself that I’m forbidden from writing horror. My wife refuses to deal with what comes of me writing horror, so often a degree of corruption creeps into the stories. Just like redemption, I consider corruption to be something that can happen to anyone or anything. Angels can fall, demons can ascend. Almost nothing is immune to this, save the primal gods of my settings, but that’s another subject. I try to keep this to a minimum.
Deities: I love deities in stories, particularly when they’re at least slightly involved in events. I’ve come up with a cosmology where the Primal Gods create multiple universes, while lesser deities manage each universe, so it allows me to write with at least somewhat similar concepts between universes without too much issue. Generally deities aren’t as directly involved as they are in Ancient Ruins, but that book is an exception in a lot of ways.
Elves: This is the biggest obsession I have. I love elves. Adore them to pieces, and they almost always make an appearance in my books and stories. Even science fiction, where if nothing else they’re either body-modified humans or characters the characters play in an MMO. If you read my books, it’s all but inevitable. And don’t even get me started on dark elves…I love them, too. But not the type from D&D. Stupid, backstabbing… *meanders off, muttering*
Extreme Powers: I like coming up with the powerful characters in worlds. They’re usually the first characters I create, in fact. This leads to a world having characters that are far more powerful than the main characters…usually. Sistina is an exception of exceptions, there. But the entire world of Ancient Ruins was based around her, so what can we expect? In any case, I generally like having these powers in the world, but generally they don’t move because there are other, counter-balancing powers. Sort of the theory of mutually assured destruction, when a single character is a full nuclear arsenal.
Female Leads/Lesbians: I…okay, how do I explain this one? You know what, let’s just take the bull by the horns. For about as long as I can remember, I’ve identified most with heroines in books. I don’t enjoy books with male leads nearly as much. Every time I set out to write a male lead, the story falls flat. When I set out to try to write a heterosexual relationship for the main character, it dies, horribly. The last time I did this, the male turned into a villain. So lesbian leads are pretty much inevitable. As non-main characters, gay or heterosexual couples (or poly relationships for that matter) are quite possible and even likely. But not for main characters.
Harem Stories: More often than I like, this comes up. I come up with multiple characters that I want my lead paired with, and I can’t choose. So the character ends up with more than one. As far as I’m concerned, this will only happen if people are willing, and especially with the lifespan of elves and Sistina, trying to go monogamous for 800+ years seems like a bad idea. They tend to be a lot more open to such.
Magic: In fantasy, magic is an inevitable part of my writing, and it’s powerful. In science fiction, it’s replaced by psionics and nanotechnology. I can’t get away from it, not really, but not all characters have access to this.
Pervasive Darkness: This is a big one. In all honesty, Ancient Ruins is a fair bit darker than most of the stories I’ve written. The implications of slavery and rape are far more pervasive than normal, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist in my other writing. I don’t believe in shying away from the idea that these things happen. In Ancient Ruins the bad guys have the ability to magically compel obedience on slaves, and unfortunately, I see one of the most common uses for evil individuals would be to take people as sex slaves or the like. Unfortunate, but how I see a lot of individuals, particularly in a much darker world.
Reasonable Evil: Most bad guys don’t see themselves as evil, even in a world where one can see the Gods of Light and Gods of Darkness, and even potentially ask them questions. Most evil individuals consider themselves as doing the right thing, no matter how twisted their motivations. Of course, there are those who are exceptions, but those are relatively rare. Accompanying this is…
Redemption: As far as I’m concerned, if a character has a mind (like, they aren’t an unintelligent ooze or the like), they can achieve redemption. In theory, mind. Many characters that are evil don’t want to change, so their redemption isn’t going to happen. Some are misguided, while others like demons are ‘innately’ evil, but even they can dream of redemption. I never say that a specific character is completely and utterly irredeemable until the story is done.
The Great Balance: This is the final part of my creation of stories. In my view, neither good or evil will ever truly win. Without light there can be no shadow, and without shadow there is no light. So any victory, by either side, is temporary. One of my other books I’ve got half-written, Sisters of Radience, addresses what happens when one side actually wins. Spoiler: It’s bad.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on my tendencies. *pauses and looks up at the list* Geez, I’m a weird writer.
9 thoughts on “Literary Tendencies”
Hey I Just finished ancient ruins and I am now a huge fan! Thank you for doing what you do👍 Also, very interesting post, I really resonate with a lot of your list.
I’m glad that you enjoyed Ancient Ruins! Spells of Old is coming along pretty well, though I’m doubting I’ll hit my goal of finishing it by the month’s end. Even if I did, well, editing takes a while.
As to my list, I’ve decided that the best thing for me to do is simply be honest about what I write, and why. I’m glad that other people like some of the same concepts, too.
I think that is fantastic! You should always be true and open about what you feel passionate about. Playing to your strengths will make you a better writer, keep your fans faithful and probably make you more happy. :)
Interesting. Wasn’t really planning on commenting, but mentioning “Reasonable Evil” prompted me: I was just wondering too much whether this was something you had attempted with Jared, reminding me very slightly of, err, whatsitcalled – well, it’s some scifi story by a female author with a heroine from a gender-equal, meritocratic society, and a hero from a ruthlessly patriarchal, very hierarchical society, at war with each other.
But I have to say if that was your goal I didn’t feel you truly succeed. Enslaving some priestesses for accessing magical power in a society where such is needed for advancement – reasonable evil. People are resources. Use them. Doing the whole female bimbo sex slave thing – no. The setting doesn’t provide a background to make that a “reasonable” act.
And just an entirely subjective thing: I don’t really buy into the redemption thing in fiction. Or it’s more that I have developed a dislike for it because it’s used as a tropes with too much hand-waving too often: people just randomly forgiving atrocious acts like rape, or murder, or starting wars … and, you know, kill all the “red shirts”, the random nameless characters that are just following orders, and spare the named bad guy/gal because … s/he’s an “actual character”.
In that way I’m much more content with ruthlessly vindictive heroes/heroines. Often makes them more interesting as characters, too.
An entirely fair point. As I said, my view is that most of these characters view what they do as reasonable. In Jared’s case, he was brought up in a society where what he did is considered normal and acceptable. For him, he saw absolutely no problem with it.
As to redemption…just because someone can be redeemed doesn’t mean they should be forgiven. I didn’t deal with the psychological consequences of what was done to Desa, Topaz, and the Jewels in part because I didn’t want to be writing horror (my view), and partially because I knew I couldn’t do it justice without depressing me immensely. So mind-control handwavium.
But yeah. In this particular case, one of the things I had to re-write in Spells of Old’s outline was because one of the NPCs rather brutally destroyed a planned redemption arc.
Finally…I don’t like ruthlessly vindictive characters, unless they manage it without being a jerk. But if Sistina had known what specifically had been done to the Jewels by Jared? He wouldn’t have been given the chance to surrender. She would have just mercilessly squashed him.
Well, what’s being a jerk? Vengeance is near-always a bit of a jerk thing to do. Sword of Justice Torren (Ancillary Justice) “destroys” this huge, ancient, interstellar empire because the ruler betrayed her. I’d say they got what they had coming, but of course one could argue that that was a dreadfully selfish thing to do and she should rather have worked at containing the civil war (instead of happily fanning the flame). Likewise, Monza (Best Served Cold) tortures one of those who betrayed her to death (using the subtle tool of a hammer), but given how “torturous” her near-death was it’s hard to be sympathetic with her victim, even if it’s very “an eye for an eye” view of the world.
I’d probably be horrified if I read about someone real who did that sort of thing, but fiction it’s just this kinda outlet to for once not let get “the baddies” get away with it. Political correctness I reserve for actual people ;)
As with Jared, it’s not so much that he sees himself as such that I have a problem with, it’s with selling that idea as credible. Whenever he’s up, he’s doing some sort of male-juvenile-fantasy thing. That gets my whole suspend-disbelief running in circles if I feel it’s not well established, and I saw too little of his society and daily life and such to really do that. But maybe that’s just me.
… anyway. Just saw your inspiration book list, and if you haven’t read it, you might want to look at Jacquotte Fox Kline’s Deep Down Inside. Features: Gods, Angels, Demons, Succubi, Lesbians, Corruption … heck, I think the only thing that’s missing from your list are elves.
Dark novels, though. Some really messed up scenes, and lots of messed up lore in there, too. Book 2.5 is basically entirely about corrupting a “young succubus” through physical and mental torture and drugs. Not that the succubus minds too much, being a succubus (on drugs and in love), so there’s that, I suppose (and, see, that series takes place in Hell, so I buy that the succubi aren’t really shocked with a little abuse here or there. It’s just how things are. Doesn’t make them evil. Well. MORE evil).
*nods* I get what you’re coming from. See, I tend to like my heroes acting more like heroes as a whole, but there are shades of gray here as well. I run some games where I play an overwhelming evil bad guy, and as such, when Sistina first captured people, I had to decide whether she was ruthless enough to enslave them in turn. I decided that I didn’t want to deal with that, so abandoned that possibility…though by and large, Sistina is rather amoral in a lot of ways. The only reason she took sides is because she likes elves. Well, that and a bit of a Destiny, that comes up in Book 2.
Jared: Agreed. I thought about trying to show their society, but one of my primary things is that I don’t bring up a subject unless it has direct implications on the story. For instance, the regions that the Adventurers are from has steam power, but it doesn’t come up until the next book, so it isn’t even mentioned. Their society will be addressed somewhat in the next book, but I’m not sure how much of that’s going to happen. Complicated storylines, whee.
And I’ll take a look at that series that you mentioned I may or may not read it…we’ll see how I feel after the sample. Honestly, I write much, much worse stuff than what’s in Ancient Ruins. It’s simply the most screwed up stuff that I’m actually willing to publish at this point in time. I’m beginning to think my biggest issue is that I’m usually trying to give the bad guys a chance to win in most of my books/games, which just…warps the world somewhat.
You mentioned other books and writings. Have you posted them in other places, are they sitting in your computer (or on paper), or are they just partially written? If they are public, then I would love to know where and under what name. If they are finished but just sitting in your computer…POST THEM!!
My various stories are half-written on my computer and nowhere else. Some of them are decent, some aren’t. The two closest to being ‘real stories’ are Sisters of Radiance and Through the Fire. I’m currently planning on Through the Fire being the first book of Trilogy 2 of my writing career, because Sisters of Radiance would probably typecast me too much. >_>
I will consider trying to dust off some of my older, half-written stories, however, and posting them as short stories.